Character Interview – Joe Exiter

Leza:  Thank you Joe for meeting with me. I’m sure you’re still pretty exhausted after everything that’s happened.

Joe:  You’re welcome. Yeah a bit, but I’m feeling much better thanks. Getting back to Paradis helped a lot.

Leza:  I’m glad to hear it. I’ll bet your parents loved it.

Joe:  They sure did. It was hard to pull Katelyn away from Saphra and her kitchen. They cooked up a storm. (chuckles)

Leza:  I think I can confidently say that my readers were relieved that things worked out so well. What would you have done if you had said no to Dennis’s offer of being a Keeper?

Joe:  (shrugs) I guess I would have either picked up where I left off or maybe chosen a different career path. I honestly don’t know. It would have been hard to readjust either way.

Leza:  You’ve started your training in Nahrin. Are you regretting your decision at all?

Joe:  Well, after a hard training session when my muscles ache really bad and I just want to collapse, my thoughts might go that way a bit. It’s pretty full on and I don’t get much time to relax or see my family but so far it’s been good. Dennis is a good instructor and pushes me to do my best. I guess it’s the kind of challenge I wasn’t exactly looking for but needed.

Leza:  After what Dennis put you through, do you find it difficult not to resent him as he trains you?

Joe:  I try not to think about it. He really is a good guy and even though I want to punch his lights out sometimes when he pushes me, I know I won’t. He did his job and I can’t fault him for that.

Leza:  You mentioned your family. That is, your parents and Millia and her family. Yes?

Joe: Yep.

Leza:  You revealed early on that your parents died when you were little and you went into foster care. Did you not have any other family who could have taken you in?

Joe:  As far as I know I didn’t. I think my grandparents were long gone. I don’t know for sure. My parents didn’t have any siblings. I’ve never really given it much thought. I guess because no one ever came to claim me I just assumed there wasn’t anyone.

Leza:  Do you think you’ll find out now that you’re safe and have unusual but amazing access to your Earth through The Floor?

Joe:  I’ll have to think about it. I mean, right now I have an amazing family. I’m flat out training. If I did find out maybe it might rock the boat. Maybe one day but not now.

Leza:  I understand. Some things are better left unanswered.

Joe:  Right.

Leza:  Okay. I have some questions that I’m sure you won’t mind answering that readers would love to know. Are you ready?

Joe: Sure.

Leza:  What’s your favourite colour?

Joe: Definitely not red. (shudders) Uh, blue.

Leza:  You had an amazing adventure. Do you like adventure movies and which one is your favourite?

Joe:  I guess living it is not the same as watching it. I do love a good action movie usually with a good twist. My favourite would have to be Interstellar with Matthew McConaughey. It blew my mind.

Leza:  When is your birthday?

Joe:  My birth certificate says April 1st. I know, right? I thought I was doomed from the start. I tried to change it to the 4th so I wouldn’t get teased so much. Every new family I went to I tried a different date but it never stuck, unfortunately.

Leza:  Do you have any hidden talents?

Joe:  Well, I can touch my nose with my tongue. (demonstrates) And I got pretty good at playing the spoons. My camping family taught me. It was fun at the time but it’s not something I brag about. (chuckles)

Leza:  Do you like to read? If so what?

Joe:  I do sometimes but nothing too heavy. I like funny comics and fantasy novels set in space.

Leza:  What is your love language?

Joe:  Love language?

Leza:  Yes. Gary Chapman wrote a book The Five Love Languages. Words of Affirmation, Gifts, Acts of Service, Quality Time and Physical Touch.

Joe:  Huh. Never heard of it. I guess mine would be Words of Affirmation. I think receiving encouragement spurs me on more than anything.

Leza:  Great. That’s mine too. Now let’s talk about the different worlds you went to.

Joe:  Okay.  (Shifts in his chair and sips some water.)

Leza:  First was a jungle world. Had you ever been to a jungle or a similar place like a rainforest?

Joe:  Nope. Never. It was a real shock to the system. It’s not somewhere I’d like to go again. At least not alone and definitely not without a whole lot of food, water and equipment. I literally just had the shirt on my back, at least for a little while.

Leza:  What were you most afraid of?

Joe: Besides being eaten by a giant chicken or green giants? Well, there was a lot to be scared of. Being stuck there and never getting home I guess. Also the bugs were a nightmare. They invaded my eyes, nose and mouth and uh, everywhere.

Leza:  What about the Mist?

Joe:  The Mist. Yeah. Well, knowing what I know now, it doesn’t seem that bad but at the time it was terrifying. Dennis is really good at his job. Even the giants were scared of it. And if it hadn’t have come when it did, I might not have found the next door.

Leza:  In Second you had an almost opposite experience, going from a very wet and humid environment to an arid land. Were you relieved?

Joe:  Yeah, for like a minute. Then the welcome party arrived and I got very hot, very fast.

Leza:  Did you like the rockmen or hate them?

Joe:  I was scared of them at first. I mean, who wouldn’t be? But no, I didn’t hate them. They were intimidating for sure but were pretty chill most of the time.

Leza:   When Artimus revealed his true self before you went through the real door, what kind of things were going through your mind?

Joe:  Oh, man. Well, to start with, shock and confusion. I didn’t really have much time to think about it because I had to get out of there before the rockmen grabbed me. They weren’t simple like the others. I wouldn’t have been able to convince them I was human after what they’d just seen. When I got to the next world I still didn’t have much time to think about it but the one thing I kept wanting to know is why. Why come after me? Why did he change? Why is this happening to me?

Leza:  That’s a lot of whys.

Joe:   Yep. There was a lot going on. The more I learned the more questions I had.

Leza:  Did you think it followed you to Dark Isle?

Joe:  I thought it was the Grogans.

Leza:  But you didn’t tell Leonard.

Joe:  No. I still think I made the right decision. He had enough to worry about. Besides, I wasn’t sure.

Leza:  Speaking of Leonard, and stop me if it’s too painful to talk about, you were glad that you’d made a friend. Did you have many friends at home in Melbourne?

Joe: (smiles) I really liked that kid. (takes a breath) He was a great friend. Hell of a fighter. (clears throat) And to answer your question, yes. I did have a few friends back home. We weren’t besties or anything. They were from school and we still hung out sometimes but the busier we all got the less we saw of each other. I made a couple of friends at work but again no one really close.

Leza:  You were so close to Leonard. Have you ever had anyone close to you pass away before?

Joe:  Other than my parents, no. I didn’t let anyone get too close. I wasn’t exactly Mr. Popular and I changed families often enough there wasn’t much chance to form close relationships. Until Katelyn and Simon took me in. (smiles) I didn’t know what I was missing until I met them.

Leza:  In Dark Isle, they used the crystals Bluminous. Has anyone ever tried to take them from Dark Isle and use them?

Joe:  I’m not sure. I haven’t really thought much about the crystals since I was there. They interfere with the Keeper’s transports and probably the doors so I think it would be too dangerous. If someone were able to do it, I don’t know, it might be good or it could be bad though I’m not exactly sure how. Something to ask Dennis about.

Leza:  When you got to Dump world, and you were using the rubbish to survive, what was the strangest thing that you found?

Joe:  You know looking for things to help my dire situation was one thing that kept me going and sane. I think the strangest thing I found would have to be a pile of used toupées. (chuckles) I tried some on for fun. They came in handy when my mattress got lumpy.

Leza:  That is strange if a bit gross. (giggles) Have you still got your diary?

Joe:  Actually, I had someone retrieve it for me. It was a horrible place and I really did almost give up. The diary is a reminder not to ever get that low again if I can help it.

Leza:  Yes, we all need reminders. So, when you tumbled, literally, into Paradis, what was the best thing about it and why?

Joe:  Well, (rubs his neck) I bet you can guess.

Leza:  Millia?

Joe:  Yeah. Other than the obvious things like a hot bath, awesome food, really nice people and of course the islands were incredible, I loved Millia the most. I’m still pinching myself sometimes that she loves me too.

Leza:  Have you had a girlfriend before?

Joe:  Not really. I had girls who were friends but being a shy, skinny kid didn’t help my love life at all. I got close once in year twelve but I was too scared to put myself out there and ask her out.

Leza:  Are you still shy?

Joe:  A little but Millia is really easy-going and I feel very comfortable being myself with her. Which is why I fell for her so easily I guess.

Leza:  When you left Paradis and entered Sixth, abandoned Melbourne City, were you tempted to do whatever you wanted? Like eat whatever you could, take whatever you wanted to make things more comfortable, set yourself up somewhere with everything you’d ever wanted.

Joe:  I think everyone has that daydream. Especially when you’re a kid and don’t have much. I dreamt once that I was locked in a supermarket and no one knew I was there. I got to eat whatever I wanted and had fun watching movies I wasn’t allowed to watch. That was a great dream. Honestly, I didn’t even think about it. All I wanted to do was find my parents and get home. The Mist made it almost impossible especially when it pretended to be Millia. I almost caved but if I had have I wouldn’t be here talking to you.

Leza:  You made the right choice then, hard as it must have been. So, after you beat the Mist, and it was an excellent battle by the way…

Joe:  Thanks.

Leza:  You had the choice to stay put or go through the door with Dennis. What made you go through? I mean, he’d deceived you before. Why trust him?

Joe:  Well, I didn’t. But I was pretty beat up. I could barely stand. It was a gut feeling I guess. I knew there was no one in the city and no reason to stay. I would die from the storms and earthquakes or loneliness. It wasn’t a good outlook. I think he knew I had to go through. I was tensed and ready to bring him down, again, the moment I stepped through but thankfully it wasn’t what I’d thought.

Leza: Would you agree that after all you’ve been through, you have come out the other side better off?

Joe:  Yep. Absolutely. I mean, I’ve still got a lot to learn but I feel more confident in who I am and I don’t think what scared me before scares me now.

Leza:  What was your greatest fear before you went through the first door?  And what is your greatest fear now?

Joe:  I was always scared but my biggest fear was that someone would finally love me and it would be taken away. Also I’d never find that thing that made me special.

Leza:  And now?

Joe:  I still fear what might happen, especially to those I love now that I have a family. I guess my greatest fear now is that I will disappoint them. I don’t fear the unknown so much with their love and support but it would be very unwise of me to ignore certain threats that could change everything. Being a Keeper is an honour and I intend to do my best but it is dangerous. If something happened to me I fear the pain it would bring them.

Leza:  Now for the million dollar question. If you could do it all over again, would you and what would you have done differently?

Joe:  That’s a tough one. The path to what we really want in life is never an easy one. But the reward is totally worth it. So yes. I think I would but I would definitely change a few things. I think you can probably guess what they would be.

Leza:  Yes. I can. Joe, I’m amazed at your incredible story and am so glad that you could share with me and my readers a little more about yourself and your journey.

Joe:  Thanks Leza. Happy to chat.

Leza:  One last question.

Joe:  Sure.

Leza:  Will we be seeing you again?

Joe:  Well, you never know. I’ve got a lot of training to do. Maybe you’ll hear about my heroic exploits after that. (chuckles)

Leza:  All the best Joe.

Joe:  Thanks.

​Thank you for reading my character interview with Joe. 

If you would like to know more or have a question, please email me.

I look forward to hearing from you.